American Women!
A Celebration of Our History
April 22 -- October 29, 2000

Social Activist and Visionary


"The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched.
They must be felt with the heart."


At the tender age of 19 months, Helen Keller suffered an illness that left her profoundly deaf and blind. She overcame these disabilities with the assistance of a devoted teacher, Anne Sullivan, who taught Helen how to read and write in Braille. She would later learn to speak in a primitive fashion.

After graduation from Radcliffe College in 1904, Keller devoted herself to a range of social causes. Between 1909 and 1924, she was active in the radical politics of the Socialist Party and the Industrial Workers of the World. She also campaigned against U.S. entry into World War I and in favor of women's suffrage.

Beginning in 1924, however, Keller was an articulate spokesman for the American Foundation for the Blind and a national symbol of personal courage in the face of adversity. Her many books and William Gibson's popular play, The Miracle Worker helped to convince the American people that physical limitations need not compromise a person's intellectual potential.


Historic Artifacts:

BRAILLE TYPEWRITER used by Helen Keller
-- On loan from Ivy Green, Birthplace of Helen Keller, Tuscumbia AL

LETTER from Helen Keller to President Eisenhower, 8-12-60
-- On loan from the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library-Museum, Abilene KS

LETTER from Helen Keller to President Hoover regarding the American Foundation for the Blind, 2-5-33
LETTER typed on a Braille typewriter from a student at Murphy Ranch Elementary School, Whittier CA
-- From the collections of the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library-Museum, West Branch IA

Return to "11 Unforgettable American Women" page

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  From Colony to Country, 1600-1800 From Jazz to War, 1920-1950
  From Growth to Civil War, 1800-1870 From Fifties to Feminism, 1950-1990
  From Prairie to Polls, 1870-1920 Into the 21st Century, 1990 onward
"red arrow" View an alphabetical list of all 106 women included in American Women! with links to photos and biographies for selected women
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